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6 Strategies for Reading with Young Learners

July 24, 2018 by cymaster

Young learners love stories, and reading with young learners typically involves including a wide range of activities along with the reading itself. We read the images, read the text aloud, retell the story with our own words, and carry out a series of playful activities based on the text. However, a beautiful picture book isn't enough,  language teachers need extra materials to support their reading programmes and make them successful. If you would like to offer a full educational program to young learners, try pairing a good course book with Helbling Young Readers. One 32-page reader will provide enough materials, activities and games for at least 4 sessions.

You will get:

  • the story,
  • the illustrations,
  • a picture dictionary,
  • activities and games,
  • extra arts and crafts projects,
  • worksheets for Cambridge ESOL YLE  Exam Practice,
  • flashcards,
  • Big Books for shared reading,
  • and the audio recording in mp3 format.

Follow these six strategies and we guarantee that you will have a fun and successful young reading programme.

1 Shared group reading

Big Book Helbling Young Readers

Use the Helbling Young Readers BIG BOOKS: they are specially devised for shared reading. Make sure that your students have copies of the small editions too. This way they can reread the text alone or with their family or friends.

Why do it?

  • introduces reading as a fun, group activity
  • models fluency, intonation and
  • improves listening comprehension
  • connects listening, reading and visual literacy skills
  • presents and practises vocabulary in context
  • breaks down barriers for children struggling to read

How to do it?

  • Choose a reader.
  • Activate background knowledge and vocabulary.
  • Make predictions.
  • Read the text to your group.
  • Reread the text, inviting your students to join in the reading if they feel like it.

2 Read aloud and build a dialogue

Whether you are reading with one student or a group, take this simple and easy advice: slow down. Give enough time to your students to choose a book (offer 2 or 3 titles you have selected), give them enough time to study the book before you start reading, and give them enough time to observe the images.

Why do it?

  • Around the age of 5 or 6 young children are already familiar with picture books, and they have developed strategies to understand stories that are read to them. Storytelling gains more importance than ever before.
  • When you are reading aloud to children, your can give your full attention to them.
  • It revises vocabulary and introduces new words, phrases your students might not even know in their first language.
  • You can introduce simple reading techniques to very young children: book layout, page layout, speech bubbles, and they can identify letters and words.
  • When you are reading aloud, children learn to interpret images.

How to do it?

  • During the second or third reading of the story, let your students finish sentences.
  • Look back: from time to time, stop to ask questions about the story. ‘What happened to the kite before?’, or ‘Do you remember this girl?’.
  • Anticipation: children love anticipating the plot. It makes them feel comfortable and reassures them that their knowledge of the world is correct.
  • Prediction: Ask them what they think will happen to the characters.
  • Tap into their experiences: ask them if they have seen or heard about the things you are reading about.

3 Move and act

Reading is often a solitary and stationary act. When you decide to use stories with young learners, remember that they might not feel comfortable sitting in one spot for 30 minutes.

Why do it?

  • Young learners enjoy learning through movement: they love pointing at and touching things, acting and dancing.
  • Reading in the classroom should not become a monotonous action that makes your students sleepy. We have bedtime stories for that.

How to do it?

  • Point out objects and people while you are reading and ask your students to do the same.
  • When there’s action, imitate the characters in the book.
  • Use some scenes or the whole reader for role plays.

If you’re interested in role plays and acting in the reading classroom, read our previous posts about them:

4 Have fun with flashcards

How to use flashcards

Why do it?

Flashcards are every language learner’s indispensable vocabulary assistants. Most of the young learners in your groups can’t read or write yet. Use the picture dictionaries (open-out flaps in Helbling Young Readers) or use the illustrations, but most importantly, use the flashcards. Language teachers often happen to find themselves in a difficult situation when they urgently need good quality flashcards. The Helbling Flashcards use high-quality illustrations, and you can download them from your Young Readers website free of charge. Print them, cut them up, and you are ready to go.

How to do it?

Download the Helbling Flashcards Guide for advice on using them for exam preparation, and instructions for fun games.

5 Do creative projects and play games

If you do creative projects and games after reading a story, you can make sure that your students have immediate, contextualised vocabulary practise. They can also play a game and make the book more memorable.

Why do it?

  • Creative projects activate manual and visual skills, and let your students rely on their own creativity.

How to do it?

6 Chant

We have talked about the power of images and acting. Songs, chants and raps are equally valuable for your reading class.

Why do it?

  • Children love rhymes, and they become familiar with them at a very early age (2-3). They repeat and imitate your words without really questioning what you’re saying. This quality helps them develop unharmed pronunciation at an early age.
  • If you top word repetition activities with chants, you can practise intonation and sentence structure with your young learners in a natural way.

How to do it?

  • Listen to the chants on the interactive CD-ROMs you’ll find at the back of the books.
  • Listen several times, and start chanting along.
  • Stop the record and chant slowly.
  • Start the record again, and chant together.
  • Do the ‘Beat the chant’ activity on the CD-ROM.

For more information, read more about the Helbling Young Readers.